American Mah Jongg (2022 NMJL card). How do you defend against an opponent showing these exposures?
1. It's a pung of nines. Scan the card for pungs of nines. This player could be making Like Nos. #2, Consec #4 or #7, 369 #5 or 369 #6. Next, scan the table (between turns, of course). See more than two reds, greens, or soaps? If you see a lot of dragons or nines dead on the table, then she's probably not doing the Like Nos. hand. As for Consec, she needs pairs of 7D and eights, and she needs dragons. If you see more than two of 7D or 8D dead on the table, you can stop worrying about Consec #7. Scan also for 3D and 6D. If you see more than two 6Ds dead on the table, she's not making 369 #6. For 369 #5, she needs threes and sixes in another suit, and another pung of nines; a bit harder to defend.
2. Look at Consec. There's only one hand: #5, the most powerful hand on the card. This year it's even more powerful, since it can be made in one or two suits. 1B and 4B are hot. If you have those tiles in your hand, don't throw them.
3. Scan the 13579 section of the card all you want, but you won't find this there. Check Consec. This could be #3 or #6. In both cases, sixes are hot. Flowers too, but by the time somebody has made two exposures, flowers are always dangerous to throw. Scan the table. If you see more than two 6B or 6C or 6D (key tiles), he can't make Consec #6. If he looks dejected, you may not need to worry about him.
4. There are only four flower kongs on the 2022 card. 2022 #3, Quints #4, Consec #7, and W-D #3. Scan the table for winds, dragons, and twos. If you see a lot of twos or soaps already out, you can eliminate 2022 from your worries. If you see a lot of winds, eliminate W-D. If you see a lot of green, red, and white, eliminate Consec. Watch that player's discards. If they always put discards in the same part of the discard floor, you're being given valuable information.
5. There's only one dragon quint on the card: #1. Because she's called a dragon with two jokers, she could be close to mah-jongg. Scan the table for which wind is least present, and watch her discards. It's safe to throw what she throws.
6. Could be anywhere on the left pane of the card. 2022 #2, 2468 #2, or Like Nos. #1 or #3. Look at other players' exposures, and look at the discard floor. See any 2B? See dragons (especially soap)? And check for 8B; it's a key tile. If it's dead on the table, you have one less possibility to worry about.
Question or comment about this column? I often, um... intentionally... "miss" something; maybe you'll be the first one to spot it! Email and the discussion will be posted on the Mah-Jongg Q&A Bulletin Board. Hit me with your best shot!
Join Johni Levene's popular Facebook group, "Mah Jongg, That's It!" for lively conversations about American mah-jongg and all things mah-jongg.
Where to order the yearly NMJL card: Read FAQ 7i.
Need rules for American mah-jongg? Tom Sloper's book, The Red Dragon & The West Wind, is the most comprehensive book about the American game, a good supplement to the League's official rulebook. AND see FAQ 19 for fine points of the American rules (and commonly misunderstood rules). AND every player should have a copy of Mah Jongg Made Easy, the official rulebook of the National Mah Jongg League (see FAQ 3 for info on mah-jongg books).
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